Functional Training Versus Resistance Training
by Ian Lauer CSCS
The buzzword, rather buzz phrase, now is most definitely “Functional Training.” Interestingly the vast majority of the public and even a surprising large number of Trainers don’t even know what “Functional Training” is. By definition, Functional Training is any exercise that helps you perform better in life. Depending on what you do in “life”, Functional Training can take many forms.
Functional Training for a Football Player is going to look very different than Functional Training for a Golfer. Similarly, the “Functional” work that an Equestrian does in their workouts will vary drastically from that of a Housewife. In essence, Functional Training should be molded after and emulate the Sport or Life Activities that the Trainee wants to enhance. What blows my freaking mind is the asinine “Functional Training” that HARMFUL trainers are having their unsuspecting clients take part in.
This, of course, comes after they have tried to BASH Resistance Training all the while not being smart enough to realize that a “Functional Movement” with weights, a RESISTANCE Band, a Medicine Ball, Cables, Etc. IS RESISTANCE TRAINING!
These so-called trainers have polluted the training world with a hodge podge of “exercises” that seem to be taking root in a number of big box gyms.
Now, for those Trainers that THINK they are innovative and have clients balancing on balls while curling a band all the while tethered to a pole as they chew gum and rub their bellies whilst patting their heads… I have one thing to say. STOP BEING A DOUCHEBAG! Unless the trainee is planning on working as a performing Elephant for Barnum Bailey you are wasting everyone’s time and putting the client at risk of serious injury for essentially ZERO benefit. Please don’t misunderstand… I am for “Functional Training” so long as it will benefit the trainee in their Sport or Life. This kind of “Functional Training” will look somewhat like the activity to be improved.
An example of this would be a Stepping Chest Press with Resistance for a Football Player. Here a sport movement such as blocking a linebacker is used as a model to fashion an exercise to closely emulate the actual move. Another example would be a Standing Single Arm Row with Back Step. This type of movement would be beneficial for a Mixed Martial Artist in developing their strength to pull an opponent off balance. In each of these examples notice how the trainee works against resistance in the movement to strengthen the necessary musculature to improve strength when back on the field or in the octagon.
Now that we are fully on the same page about Functional Training, my apologies if you were mislead by the title of this article. I’m not here to tell you how one type of training is better than the other; rather, I am here to inform you. “Functional Training” in the majority of settings is merely a variation of “Resistance Training.” If you are moving against resistance you are performing “Resistance Training.” If you are moving against resistance to improve your performance in Sport or Life you are performing “Resistance based Functional Training.” One could make the argument that any exercise is Functional Training as it is done to improve function in life, but let’s not get caught up in semantics. For our purposes, we will consider Sport/Life like movements Functional Training while we consider the more common movements such as Bench Press, Squat, Curls, etc. “Traditional Resistance Training.”
Both, Functional Training and Traditional Resistance Training play vital roles in improving your Sport’s Performance. Traditional Resistance Training is essential in the development of BASE POWER. This base power is obviously important in the vast majority of sports. The ability to Push, Pull, or Drive with the Legs is the result of Base Power. Now, to use that Base Power most efficiently and effectively you must “tie it together.”
What do I mean by “tie it together?” If your base power is just “pieces parts” and uncoordinated you won’t gain the full benefit of the massive power you posses. You “tie it together” with REAL FUNCTIONAL TRAINING. This teaches your body to move against resistance with efficiency and strength. Can you see how this will help you against an opponent? If you move efficiently and effectively with power you are much more likely to blow through the Offensive Line or throw your Judo opponent with ease.
Massive Base Power and Efficient Functional Movement result in Incredible Performance. How do you go about attaining these desired results? YOU TRAIN! YOU TRAIN HARD! If you want it handed to you you’ve come to the wrong place. That’s like just wishing to be the best. Let me share with you one of my father’s favorite phrases: “Wish in one hand and S#@% in the other… See which on fills up first!” In other words if you want something you have to go out there and GRAB it because it won’t be placed in your grasp.
Want to develop Massive Base Power? You need to move Massive Weight in Traditional Movement Patterns. A couple of pieces of equipment come to mind that can help you in the goal. They can handle the weight and intensity needed to develop that crazy power. A few great pieces for this are Powertec’s Workbench Power Rack, Workbench Half Rack, or Workbench Levergym. Each of these pieces of equipment provides you with a great platform to develop the much needed Base Power.
Now you have your base power and want to “tie it together!” The Powertec Functional Trainer is a great machine to make that happen. With the Functional Trainer you can work against resistance in Functional Movement Patterns that mimic your sport. The result of this training is increased Functional Strength. When you couple increased functional strength with increased base power you end up with dramatically improved performance.
As you can see there are a number of options available to help you reach your goals. Doing the work still comes back to you. Do YOU have the desire and drive to reach your goals? If you are the type of person that MUST achieve you know what you MUST to do. You MUST train HARDER and SMARTER than your opponent.
Now you fully understand the importance of Resistance Training AND Functional Training… It’s up to you to bring the INTENSITY and CONSISTENCY to be the best!
– Ian Lauer CSCS